Students recall innocent, kind attitude of Connor Cummings at Memorial Service

By Stuart Foster

(Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian)

A remembrance service for Connor Cummings, a 20-year-old sophomore psychology major at the University of Massachusetts who died on Dec. 30, 2015, was held in the Newman Center Friday evening. Cummings fell nine stories from a scaffolding at the Four Seasons Hotel. The service, which was attended by more than 200 people, followed a display of Cummings’ photography in the Studio Arts Building. Both events were hosted by Alpha Sigma Phi, the fraternity Cummings was a member of. “Connor, being such an amazing person, left a very important mark on anyone lucky enough to meet him,” said Jared Marvel, a senior industrial engineering major and president of Alpha Sigma Phi’s UMass chapter. Friends of Cummings and members of his fraternity spoke during the service, focusing their words of remembrance on his attitude of positivity and his photography. Liam Rose, a member of Alpha Sigma Phi who said he convinced Cummings to join the fraternity, told the people in attendance how Cummings “took pictures of puddles and made them look beautiful,” and talked about Cummings’ plans to do photography for other organizations as an intern. Rose also mentioned Ronda, a pet snake who he said Cummings was always excited to show people. “It’s not often you meet someone who treats a ball python like an infant, but that’s Connor,” said Rose, a sophomore majoring in sports management. Alexis Boller, a sophomore sports management and communications major at UMass who went to high school with Cummings at Morris Knolls High School in Rockaway, New Jersey, recalled how excited she was to learn she and Cummings would be attending the same college, and mentioned their plans to move to California after graduating college. “I truly never knew how much I now appreciate the simplest memories,” said Boller. “I desperately hope I wake up from this nightmare.” A letter sent by the Cummings family was also read by Benjamin Garner, a junior resource economics major. They wrote that the experience of coming to the remembrance service would be too painful for them. Earlier in the day, at the photography display in the Studio Arts Building, around 50 people had come to see Cummings’ pictures, which alternated between primarily urban, industrial images and natural settings. Marvel said that he was extremely impressed with Cummings’ photography, and said that some of his photographs were as good as those of Ansel Adams, a famous twentieth century environmental photographer. “I have friends who are professional photographers,” said Marvel. “He’s better than them.” Matt Peterson, a junior at Morris Knolls whose brother was best friends with Cummings, came to UMass on Friday for the remembrance service. Peterson described Cummings as a consistently positive person who “had a huge impact” on his life as a role model, and said he was very impressed with Cummings’ photography. “I think it’s amazing considering that he had only been doing it for a year or so,” said Peterson. Over the winter vacation Charlie Fine, a sophomore majoring in management, spoke about meeting Cummings on his floor in the Cance Residential Building. He described Cummings as exceptionally nice and cheerful. “I think he was able to look at things with a more interesting perspective than a lot of people do,” Fine said. Stuart Foster can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @Stuart_C_Foster.